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Published January 1st, 2005 | by Mike Barnard

The Invincible Iron Man Review

Classification: 12A Director: Patrick Archibald, Jay Oliva, Frank Paur Rating: 2.5/5

There never seems to be a shortage of comic book heroes to be brought to life: the spate of live action translations has made them a stable part of recent blockbuster cinema. As enjoyable as they can be, few manage to recreate the same visual flair as seen in the original 2-D versions so it makes a refreshing change to see one stay true to its hand-drawn roots – at least for now. The Invincible Iron Man offers the chance to see a Marvel character in an animated feature length film before Robert Downey Jr. takes the leading role of billionaire hero Tony Stark next year.

Iron Man, actually Stark in a hulking great metal suit with laser-emitting palms, jet-booster boots and super-human strength when he needs to battle evil forces, isn’t the most well-known Marvel character. It’s no surprise, then, that this is an origin story of how Stark came to be a pillar for peace. A respected billionaire businessman, he is hired to use break-through technology to physically raise a forgotten city against his father’s advice. In doing so he awakens the emperor of China’s darkest and most violent dynasty, the Mandarin, and his four Elementals; magical warriors who harness the power of the elements, earth, water, wind and fire. Nearly killed in the process, Stark survives thanks to the fitting of a breastplate which enables him to control a giant iron suit, battle the Elementals and stop the Mandarin from unleashing the full extent of his evil when he takes on his full form.

Moving Iron Man’s origin story from Vietnam and into an ancient Chinese history lesson is disappointing as it becomes like any other Saturday morning cartoon scratching around for ideas. Battles against magical monsters who can manipulate the earth, wind, fire and water are hardly original, and the claims of the filmmakers in one of the features on this DVD that this made it a more exciting movie are laughable. It would have been far more interesting to see Stark in a real world and not transported into a fantasy setting where a giant dragon shows up for a duel. Granted it never looks ridiculous to see larger-than-life heroes and villains battling in 2-D, however fans will probably not be happy.

However, The Invincible Iron Man does manage to pull together plenty of destructive action. He dives through lava, demolishes rock with ease and generally bashes every enemy about in the metal suit of tricks. The east meets west, technology verses mythology story is a little tired and there are plenty of silly moments (Stark’s underground lair featuring dozens of exoskeleton suits he prepared earlier is one of them), yet this animated feature does the job of bringing Iron Man to animated life. Of course, it will inevitably be forgotten about this time next year following Downey Jr’s turn as Tony Stark, but as a warm up act it more than serves its purpose.

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